This archived article was written by: KC Smurthwaite
The USU Eastern baseball team is in the midst of conference play and started to come together as a team after losing their first eight games. The Golden Eagles responded well to winning five of their last six games. “ Our team is clicking and that is outstanding,” stated Head Coach Scott Madsen.
The first home conference series was against College of Southern Idaho. Mother Nature was not friendly as the game started with the temperatures in the upper 20s with winds gusting near 20 MPH. The men from Price struggled to produce any type of offense. The game was tied going into the fifth inning, but CSI picked up three runs as the Eastern pitching staff walked the first two hitters. CSI took the lead and never looked back as they defeated Eastern 12-4.
The second game turned out to be a scoring fest. Eastern struck first and scored four runs in the first inning. The offense was dominant with 10 hits, including four by sophomore second baseman Kody Christoffersen. Eastern starting pitcher Tory Ulibarri who threw six innings and allowed three earned runs. Ultimately the defense did not show up for USU Eastern as they committed six errors in the 11-10 loss to CSI.
CSI took the final two games of the series and benefitted from defensive miscues from the Eastern baseball team. In the final two games, Eastern committed seven errors and gave ten-free passes to CSI. The Idaho team won 8-1 and 9-4. “We didn’t play our game in this series. We tried to do too much in the tough situations,” said Madsen.
The Golden Eagles hit the road for their next series against Western Nevada College. Western is ranked in the top 20 in the nation for JUCO Baseball. The Wildcats overpowered the Golden Eagles at the plate as they outhit Eastern 45-22 on the weekend. USU Eastern starting pitcher Kort Christoffersen pitched extremely well for the Golden Eagles, but was forced out of action as he got hit with a line drive early in the second inning of his outing. USU Eastern fell in all four games against Western. “It was a rough weekend, we understood that we still have a lot of season left, but how we played wasn’t acceptable,” commented freshman Chance Abrath.
The Golden Eagles headed home for a mid-week, two-game non-conference series against Dawson CC. Eastern was eager to snap their eight-game losing streak. “It was time for us to step up to the plate and play our game,” said Assistant Coach Rob Smith.
The Golden Eagles fell early 4-0 early in the game as a few untimely errors allowed the Bucs from Dawson to score. The Golden Eagles once again staged a comeback that led off with solo homeruns by Mason Moore and Nuho Kraja. Both teams kept scoring runs, but the Bucs lead the whole game until the Golden Eagles tied it up in the sixth inning. Eastern held the Bucs offense in the seventh inning and allowed the Golden Eagles to complete the comeback to win the game. Eastern’s first three hitters: Denver Hansen (walk), Nuho Kraja (bunt) and Mason Moore (HBP) all reached base which allowed Kody Christoffersen to win the game by hitting a single to the right side of the field. The Golden Eagles pulled out the 7-6 victory.
The second game of the series again favored the Golden Eagles’ offense as they jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning. The offense then sputtered to produce, but was benefitted by great pitching by Jordan Hepworth and Skyler Thorpe who each pitched three innings.
The Golden Eagles faced conference foe Colorado Northwestern in a battle of teams that had yet to pull out a victory in conference play. The Golden Eagles won 3 of the four-game series. Eastern put together the three victories by getting help from both the offense and defense. The pitching staff got complete game victories from Joe Barta and Kody Christoffersen, who also threw a shut-out. Kort Christoffersen and Tory Ulibarri both kept the Spartans off-balance from the mound. The offense was paced by Alexandro Church who was 6 for 11 in the series.
The Golden Eagles are currently 11-15 on the season and will face Salt Lake CC this weekend. Catch the baseball team in action in Price against College of Southern Nevada March 30-31.